Why am I stuck on squats?

I've been at 120 lbs on squats for three workouts and it seems to get harder every time I do it. I don't know how the hell I'd ever go up in weight if 120 is absolutely kicking my butt every single time.

Thoughts?
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Replies

  • PtheronJr
    PtheronJr Posts: 108 Member
    What does your squat routine look like?
    Do you do them first? What kind of warmup do you have? What portion of the movement do you have the most difficulty with?

    If you're also trying to lose weight (which I assume you are), it's natural to stall on lifts during a cut, you might want to try eating a little more to see if your energy levels are the issue. If not, either try a deload (reduced volume or intensity for a week) and then come back and see where you are, or reduce the weight a tad bit and try doing a few more reps (increased volume) for a week or two and then come back with 125 lbs and see how you fair there.

    In fact, you might just want to go up to 125 lb or 130 lb for less reps and try to increase the amount of reps you can do there. There are different ways to approach increasing your strength in lifts.
    I've broken plateaus by doing very heavy singles.
  • jimmmer
    jimmmer Posts: 3,515 Member
    I've been at 120 lbs on squats for three workouts and it seems to get harder every time I do it. I don't know how the hell I'd ever go up in weight if 120 is absolutely kicking my butt every single time.

    Thoughts?

    Take it back a notch and build back up to it.

    You'll find that this can be the way to get over these mini-stalls.

    This is if your diet, sleep, stress and hydration are all on point and your form is good, of course.
  • Capt_Apollo
    Capt_Apollo Posts: 9,026 Member
    what program are you following?

    also, 120 lbs for how many reps? like jimmer said, one way to get over it is to scale back, and build up some more.

    but i find that many stalls are caused not by the time in the gym, but by the time outside the gym, when you should be resting and eating right.
  • Titanuim
    Titanuim Posts: 337 Member
    Are you doing a particular routine?

    I found that by doing the Strong Curves workout I was activating all of my glute muscles, which lead to better form and the ability to lift heavier amounts on my back squat.
  • _lyndseybrooke_
    _lyndseybrooke_ Posts: 2,561 Member
    Thanks for the tips. I already tried de-loading last week and it didn't help. I'll try going up in weight for fewer reps, though that definitely didn't help my OHP. If all else fails, I'll just try my fractional plates.

    I'm doing 5x5.
    If you're also trying to lose weight (which I assume you are)

    ....I'll try not to take that to heart.
  • jimmmer
    jimmmer Posts: 3,515 Member
    but i find that many stalls are caused not by the time in the gym, but by the time outside the gym, when you should be resting and eating right.

    ^this has been my experience as well.

    It's easier to make it work under the bar when the rest of your s#!t is in order...
  • _lyndseybrooke_
    _lyndseybrooke_ Posts: 2,561 Member
    but i find that many stalls are caused not by the time in the gym, but by the time outside the gym, when you should be resting and eating right.

    ^this has been my experience as well.

    It's easier to make it work under the bar when the rest of your s#!t is in order...

    I'm not stressed and I eat well and fuel my workouts. My sleep isn't so great, but it never has been. Maybe it's catching up with me. I go to bed at 9 and wake up at 5, but I toss and turn quite a bit and get up to pee often. I'm never tired during the day, but I suppose it still could be affecting my lifts, especially since I do it so early in the morning.
  • Wonderob
    Wonderob Posts: 1,372 Member
    Thanks for the tips. I already tried de-loading last week and it didn't help. I'll try going up in weight for fewer reps, though that definitely didn't help my OHP. If all else fails, I'll just try my fractional plates.

    I'm doing 5x5.
    If you're also trying to lose weight (which I assume you are)

    ....I'll try not to take that to heart.

    In fairness, that ticker below every one of your posts does say 22 lb lost - 3 lb to go
    :wink:
  • SezxyStef
    SezxyStef Posts: 15,268 Member
    but i find that many stalls are caused not by the time in the gym, but by the time outside the gym, when you should be resting and eating right.

    ^this has been my experience as well.

    It's easier to make it work under the bar when the rest of your s#!t is in order...

    I'm not stressed and I eat well and fuel my workouts. My sleep isn't so great, but it never has been. Maybe it's catching up with me. I go to bed at 9 and wake up at 5, but I toss and turn quite a bit and get up to pee often. I'm never tired during the day, but I suppose it still could be affecting my lifts, especially since I do it so early in the morning.

    Have you tried 125? I know 120 is "hard" and you say it kicks your butt but it could be a mental block more than anything esp since you are getting close to BW squats.

    Have you tried working out at a different time of the day? or eating before (at least something) or having a large dinner at night maybe with more carbs than you would normally eat.

    I ask as I have noticed my lifts on Monday were great compared to Wednesday....I get more carbs on the weekend...and now that I am working up to maitenance I am eating more carbs in my normal diet and I have found my lifts have improved as well...now that could be the extra food too but 100 extra calories (which is what I am getting now) wouldn't have that much of an effect...
  • joshnewton1976
    joshnewton1976 Posts: 14 Member
    How many days a week are you exercising your legs? I used to work every body part twice a week and would stall out quite a bit. Then I started focusing on each body part on a specific day and giving each muscle group a week to rest and my gains have been amazing. Like others have said, sleep and rest are important. Not just for your whole body (sleep), but for your muscles to regroup from taking a pounding. Also, I find it best to take a week off completely every three or four months. It throws your body off rhythm, allows it to completely heal itself, and the week I come back, I'm explosive. Hope any of this helps!!
  • Capt_Apollo
    Capt_Apollo Posts: 9,026 Member
    Thanks for the tips. I already tried de-loading last week and it didn't help. I'll try going up in weight for fewer reps, though that definitely didn't help my OHP. If all else fails, I'll just try my fractional plates.

    I'm doing 5x5.

    have you ever read jim wendlers book? he talks about having to go back when stalling on a lift. going way way way back. like, to the point that he's embarrassed to lift so little at the gym. but he now knows that doing so is one of the best way of busting through a plateau.

    and he went back months... not just deloading for a week.
  • _lyndseybrooke_
    _lyndseybrooke_ Posts: 2,561 Member
    but i find that many stalls are caused not by the time in the gym, but by the time outside the gym, when you should be resting and eating right.

    ^this has been my experience as well.

    It's easier to make it work under the bar when the rest of your s#!t is in order...

    I'm not stressed and I eat well and fuel my workouts. My sleep isn't so great, but it never has been. Maybe it's catching up with me. I go to bed at 9 and wake up at 5, but I toss and turn quite a bit and get up to pee often. I'm never tired during the day, but I suppose it still could be affecting my lifts, especially since I do it so early in the morning.

    Have you tried 125? I know 120 is "hard" and you say it kicks your butt but it could be a mental block more than anything esp since you are getting close to BW squats.

    Have you tried working out at a different time of the day? or eating before (at least something) or having a large dinner at night maybe with more carbs than you would normally eat.

    I ask as I have noticed my lifts on Monday were great compared to Wednesday....I get more carbs on the weekend...and now that I am working up to maitenance I am eating more carbs in my normal diet and I have found my lifts have improved as well...now that could be the extra food too but 100 extra calories (which is what I am getting now) wouldn't have that much of an effect...

    No, I've been scared to try 125. I don't have a power rack with safety rails or a spotter. I do it all at home with a simple squat rack. I suppose I could try it and see what happens.

    I do eat something beforehand - a Quest bar. And my dinners are usually pretty carb heavy. My lifts on Monday are best, too. I figured it was because I got two whole days of rest.
  • _lyndseybrooke_
    _lyndseybrooke_ Posts: 2,561 Member
    How many days a week are you exercising your legs? I used to work every body part twice a week and would stall out quite a bit. Then I started focusing on each body part on a specific day and giving each muscle group a week to rest and my gains have been amazing. Like others have said, sleep and rest are important. Not just for your whole body (sleep), but for your muscles to regroup from taking a pounding. Also, I find it best to take a week off completely every three or four months. It throws your body off rhythm, allows it to completely heal itself, and the week I come back, I'm explosive. Hope any of this helps!!

    I do squats three days per week with SL 5x5. I'd rather be stalled out on squats than deviate from the program right now. I'm about 10 weeks in. Maybe this is the stall out they talk about that leads to an intermediate program? I don't know - I haven't stalled on bench press, deadlifts, or rows. My OHP is very very slowly going up thanks to my new fractional plates, but I wouldn't say I've stalled yet. Even my planned intermediate program doesn't have a different muscle group everyday. I'm not really interested in the bro split. As for the week off, I haven't even reached three months of lifting yet.
  • _lyndseybrooke_
    _lyndseybrooke_ Posts: 2,561 Member
    Thanks for the tips. I already tried de-loading last week and it didn't help. I'll try going up in weight for fewer reps, though that definitely didn't help my OHP. If all else fails, I'll just try my fractional plates.

    I'm doing 5x5.

    have you ever read jim wendlers book? he talks about having to go back when stalling on a lift. going way way way back. like, to the point that he's embarrassed to lift so little at the gym. but he now knows that doing so is one of the best way of busting through a plateau.

    and he went back months... not just deloading for a week.

    I haven't read a single book on lifting and I really have no plans to. I bought the New Rules of Lifting for Women and it's just sitting on my dining room table basically untouched. I'm not much of a reader. That's interesting, though. I think I'll try a few more things before I go back to squatting the bar...
  • _HeartsOnFire_
    _HeartsOnFire_ Posts: 5,304 Member
    I don't have any tips but just wanted to say you look great!
  • _lyndseybrooke_
    _lyndseybrooke_ Posts: 2,561 Member
    I don't have any tips but just wanted to say you look great!

    Thank you! :)
  • kelly_e_montana
    kelly_e_montana Posts: 1,999 Member
    Thanks for the tips. I already tried de-loading last week and it didn't help. I'll try going up in weight for fewer reps, though that definitely didn't help my OHP. If all else fails, I'll just try my fractional plates.

    I'm doing 5x5.


    have you ever read jim wendlers book? he talks about having to go back when stalling on a lift. going way way way back. like, to the point that he's embarrassed to lift so little at the gym. but he now knows that doing so is one of the best way of busting through a plateau.

    and he went back months... not just deloading for a week.

    I haven't read a single book on lifting and I really have no plans to. I bought the New Rules of Lifting for Women and it's just sitting on my dining room table basically untouched. I'm not much of a reader. That's interesting, though. I think I'll try a few more things before I go back to squatting the bar...


    how's your intra-abdominal pressure? Breathing? Core stability?

    Do you have mobility issues with your ankle or your hip?

    Well you don't have to read his book, but I wouldn't overlook much of anything Jim Wendler has to say. I couldn't get thru New Rules either.

    One more thing, are you comfortable with getting through the sticking point of the squat? I mean, being comfortable like feeling like you are going to fail and then just pushing through it? What feels like 5 seconds to me is often only .25 secs or something when I see it on video in terms of feeling stuck or like I am going to fail.
  • Capt_Apollo
    Capt_Apollo Posts: 9,026 Member
    Thanks for the tips. I already tried de-loading last week and it didn't help. I'll try going up in weight for fewer reps, though that definitely didn't help my OHP. If all else fails, I'll just try my fractional plates.

    I'm doing 5x5.

    have you ever read jim wendlers book? he talks about having to go back when stalling on a lift. going way way way back. like, to the point that he's embarrassed to lift so little at the gym. but he now knows that doing so is one of the best way of busting through a plateau.

    and he went back months... not just deloading for a week.

    I haven't read a single book on lifting and I really have no plans to. I bought the New Rules of Lifting for Women and it's just sitting on my dining room table basically untouched. I'm not much of a reader. That's interesting, though. I think I'll try a few more things before I go back to squatting the bar...

    you should really check out his book. it's motivating, and you get to read all about his trial and error process, and learn from his mistakes. and if not wendlers book, then rippetoes since you follow 5x5.

    i didn't read any lifting or triathlon books or magazines for a long time. i thought "if i want to learn, just go out there and do it." but i kept stalling out, and i didn't have cash for private coaching, so i started picking up some books and magazines.

    they help. keep an open mind.
  • jimmmer
    jimmmer Posts: 3,515 Member
    but i find that many stalls are caused not by the time in the gym, but by the time outside the gym, when you should be resting and eating right.

    ^this has been my experience as well.

    It's easier to make it work under the bar when the rest of your s#!t is in order...

    I'm not stressed and I eat well and fuel my workouts. My sleep isn't so great, but it never has been. Maybe it's catching up with me. I go to bed at 9 and wake up at 5, but I toss and turn quite a bit and get up to pee often. I'm never tired during the day, but I suppose it still could be affecting my lifts, especially since I do it so early in the morning.

    Sleep is tied for me in equal importance to food when it comes to recovery.

    It maybe that the weight has become psychological to you given your lack of a rack. A previous posters suggestion of knocking the weight back and adding a bit of volume and then working your way back up to it isn't bad.

    At the end of the day, it could be form related, nutrition/sleep/stress/related, psychological - or a combo.

    You'll discover there are no right answers. You'll just have to try stuff and eliminate causes. But taking the weight back, even if it feels ridiculously easy, is the place to start. Then work on making the movement "beautiful" and build back up.

    ETA 5/3/1 is a great read. I've never done the programme, but I've read the book a fair few times. He writes well, the book is short and he's made all the mistakes and learned the lessons. He's funny, too.
  • Anniebotnen
    Anniebotnen Posts: 332 Member
    I know you said you don't like to read, but I highly recommend reading something written by an expert if you want to continue lifting. The New Rules of a Lifting for Women is excellent and you already have it. Why not read a few pages every day? It will help you understand the why's and how's of weight training. If you don't want to do the actual programs in the book, you can skip that part!

    I think getting you've done really well getting almost to your body weight in the squats!